South Africa 83 (Jansen 14, Jadeja 5-33, Kuldeep 2-7) was defeated by India 326 for 5 (Kohli 101*, Iyer 77, Maharaj 1-30) by a margin of 243 runs.
On his 35th birthday, Virat Kohli gave himself a record-tying 49th ODI century and India their eighth straight World Cup title. A sell-out audience of 60,000 people at Eden Gardens celebrated with Kohli after he tied Sachin Tendulkar with a punched single in the penultimate over of India’s innings. It was an unforgettable birthday celebration.
After Rohit Sharma won the toss and asked India to bat, Kohli came out to bat in the sixth over. He batted till the conclusion of the innings, leading India to an above-par 326 for 5. In the end, he scored more than South Africa, who could only muster 83 in 27.1 overs. With career-best figures of 5 for 33, Ravindra Jadeja destroyed South Africa’s chase, reducing their score to a share of second-lowest in ODI cricket.
There was something inevitable about most of Kohli’s recent centuries. The innings on Sunday was anything but. Even Kohli found it difficult to get the old ball away due to the difficult conditions in Kolkata. Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, two left-arm spinners from South Africa, also presented Kohli with drift, dip, and turn challenges.
Maharaj had removed the bail in his first over, dismissing 23-year-old Shubman Gill with a ripper that beat his outside edge. A similar delivery was bowled by Maharaj to Kohli, but the ball missed the outside edge. After getting out to a quick start—he was once on 17 off 13 balls—Kohli slowed down when faced with spin, but he was still able to manipulate that phase of the game to pick off seamers. In the 35th over, as Lungi Ngidi returned to the attack, Kohli leaped out of his crease and carted him out for four.
Maharaj’s boundary-less spell (10-0-30-1) was reminiscent of the 1990s ODIs. Maharaj was unable to misdirect even the most skilled spinner in India, Shreyas Iyer, with his lines and lengths. Instead, Iyer gave Kohli the opportunity to bat further into the innings by setting up Shamsi for four boundaries. Iyer raced to 77 off 87 balls after being on 12 off 35 balls.
Hardik Pandya, who is now out for the remainder of the tournament, provided no batting insurance, therefore Kohli declined to take any unnecessary chances. On the other side, Suryakumar Yadav (22) and Jadeja (29) took similar chances, making sure that India crossed 300.
The 134-run third-wicket stand between Kohli and Iyer was made possible by Rohit. With 40 runs in 24 balls during the powerplay, the captain of India raced out of the blocks. He destroyed both Ngidi, South Africa’s enforcer in the absence of Gerald Coetzee, and Marco Jansen, the most prolific bowler in this tournament’s powerplay.
In 9.4 overs, Jansen gave up 94 runs for just one wicket. Regarding Ngidi, he departed the field due to a suspected injury two balls into the last over of India’s innings.
Then, South Africa’s problems affected their batting. In the second over, Quinton de Kock bowled Temba Bavuma after he got the new ball to rip away past the outside edge, and Mohammed Siraj was sliced by Quinton de Kock.
Against the older, softer ball, things could only become harder. Mohammed Shami and Jadeja destroyed South Africa’s middle class. Jadeja got rid of David Miller and Henrich Klaasen, and Shami outran Aiden Markram in terms of length and line of the Test match. Shami had to leave one delivery to kiss the outside edge after bringing two back into Markram from over the wicket.
It looked for a while that India may get by without their best spinner, Kuldeep Yadav, when it came to the ball. However, Jansen’s tail wagged for a considerable amount of time, which prompted the left-arm wristspinner to be introduced. Kuldeep took two wickets while keeping them guessing by spinning the ball both ways. In addition to taking his second five-wicket haul in ODI cricket, Jadeja made history by being the second Indian spinner to record a five-for in a World Cup, following Yuvraj Singh.